Players of the Gears of War 3 beta have the opportunity to unlock exclusive weapon variants in the full game.

As if getting to play Gears of War 3 early by taking part in its multiplayer beta wasn’t enough, Epic Games is also awarding players that complete certain conditions with beta-exclusive weapon variants. Epic recently announced that the beta will begin on April 18 and end on May 15.

However, only purchasers of Epic and People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm: Epic Edition for the Xbox 360 will be able to play up until April 25. On that date, the Gears of War 3 beta will be open to everyone that pre-orders the game through select retailers.

Epic will start the beta with a single multiplayer mode, Team Deathmatch, and later add Capture the Leader and King of the Hill. These modes will be playable on four new maps: Thrashball, Checkout, Trenches, and Old Town. The studio is also teasing a “surprise event weekend” it says “you won’t want to miss.”

One of the coolest advantages to playing the beta are probably the exclusive unlocks that carry over into the full game. Epic describes these unlocks and the methods for obtaining them as follows:

  • Flaming Hammerburst
    Complete one match by Sunday, April 24 to permanently unlock.
  • Flaming Lancer
    Complete one match during the week of April 25 to permanently unlock.
  • Flaming Sawed-Off Shotgun
    Complete one match during the week of May 2 to permanently unlock.
  • Flaming Gnasher Shotgun
    Complete one match during the week of May 9 to permanently unlock.
  • Beta Tester Medal — Wear it proudly, Gear.
    Complete one match in the Beta to permanently unlock.
  • Thrashball Cole — Unlock Thrashball Cole to play as Augustus Cole as he was before Emergence Day — a legendary Thrashball athlete known for his ferocious, flamboyant style.
    Complete 50 matches in any game type to unlock for the Beta period.
    To permanently unlock, complete 10 matches as Thrashball Cole during the Beta period.
  • Gold-Plated Retro Lancer — Before the chainsaw bayonet was deployed at the beginning of the Locust-Human War, the original Lancer assault rifle had a large fixed blade.
    Complete 90 matches in any game type to unlock for the Beta period.
    To permanently unlock, score 100 kills with the Gold-Plated Retro Lancer during the Beta period.

The weapon variants of previous Gears of War games were highly sought after, so this is definitely a great way for Epic to get players to help test Gears of War 3 and to drum up early pre-orders. Gears of War 3 will be available for the Xbox 360 in fall 2011.

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